Sitting in front of a backdrop advertising a brand associated with Mohun Bagan, Jose Barreto praised his teammate of three seasons who has since fallen out with the club.
“I am very happy with how Bhaichung Bhutia has been responsible in establishing this (FPAI). FPAI needs a lot of support and I hope to see it shining in the next two years,” said the Bagan’s pole star Barreto, who shared the dais with Bhutia and Renedy Singh
Bhutia, the FPAI president, then took over and announced December 13 as the date for the awards ceremony. Bhutia kept himself out of the list of nominees. “As a president, I’m involved in the process of drawing the shortlist,” said India’s skipper. This year’s list, he said, was chosen by “senior players and the executive council members.”
Last season’s (2008-09) performance was taken into consideration. Also, voting this time around will be restricted to India senior and the U-23 squads which would assemble in Goa on Sunday.
India Player of the Year Subrata Pal’s omission from the list, Bhutia said, had a lot to do with his inability to keep a regular place at East Bengal.
“I think it’s always a big deal for a player to be evaluated by his peers,” Bhutia said. Though a first-time event in India, such an event is a regular feature on the calendars of more developed football nations of the world.
Bhutia also said that five players would be put out on the FPAI website for the Fan’s Player of the Year award.